Mohammad Reza Naqdi, commander of the Iranian paramilitary Basij forces. (AP/Vahid Salemi) (AP/Vahid Salemi)
Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi

Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the commander of Iran’s volunteer Basij militia, toured the abandoned city of Quneitra, located on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, no doubt observing Israel’s border at the same time.

A leading Iranian general who previously called Israel’s destruction “nonnegotiable” recently visited a Syrian town that lies along the country’s border with Israel, Iran’s semi-official Mehr News Agency reported on Wednesday.

Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the commander of Iran’s volunteer Basij militia, toured the abandoned city of Quneitra, located on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. The reason or timing for the visit was not reported, but it was believed to have taken place a few months ago.

Arab media outlets observed that reports of the visit in state-owned Iranian outlets marked one of the first times that Iran has officially acknowledged the presence of one of its top commanders at the Israeli-Syrian border, Ynet reported.

In January 2015, an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi was killed in an airstrike in the Syrian Golan Heights that was attributed to Israel. Allahdadi had been traveling in a convoy carrying high-ranking Hezbollah and Iranian military officials, including Abu Ali Tabatabai, who was responsible for planning attacks on northern Israel.

“According to Western intelligence sources, the presence of such high-ranking individuals [near the Israeli border] suggests that Iran and Hezbollah are trying to expand their presence into the Golan, which had fallen out of Assad’s control, in order to carry out operations against Israel—including kidnappings, rocket attacks, and other assaults on military and civilian targets,” David Daoud wrote in The Tower Magazine following the strike.

An Offender of Global Proportions

Naqdi was designated by the US Treasury Department in 2010 for his role in helping Iran evade sanctions related to the Islamic Republic’s illicit nuclear and missile programs, and in 2011 for committing human rights abuses in suppressing protests against Tehran in the wake of the 2009 disputed presidential election. He was sanctioned by the United Nations in 2008 for his role in “providing support for Iran’s proliferation sensitive nuclear activities or for the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems.”

In 2014, Naqdi said that “Arming the West Bank has started and weapons will be supplied to the people of the region. The Zionists should know that the next war won’t be confined to the present borders and the Mujahideen will push them back.”

Commenting on this warning, Daoud observed: “It is interesting that this statement came from the Basij’s commander. The Basij is the IRGC’s auxiliary militia, drawn from the civilian population, raising the question of whether the Iranians are setting up similar auxiliary groups in the West Bank. This would be in keeping with the phased plan for Israel’s destruction often repeated and recently tweeted by Khamenei.”

By: The Tower.org